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ND Women’s Basketball: Peters, Achonwa lead Irish to a pair of wins

Chris Masoud | Sunday, December 4, 2011

Heading into its first conference matchup of the season against Marquette this Wednesday, Notre Dame needed a pair of weekend blowouts to iron out its early-season kinks. The No. 3 Irish blew past Pennsylvania 69-38 at the Purcell Pavilion on Friday before handling Creighton 76-48 on the road Sunday.

Despite the 31-point margin of victory, Irish coach Muffet McGraw said her squad looked flat as it took the court against the Quakers.

“I was really disappointed in our lack of energy,” McGraw said Friday. “I’m really disappointed with the offensive execution and the scoring. We’re just not making shots.”

Led by double-digit scoring from graduate student forward Devereaux Peters (16), senior guard Natalie Novosel (14) and sophomore guard Kalya McBride (10), Notre Dame (7-1) outscored Penn (4-2) 42-22 in the paint, but made just one of 12 shots from behind the arc.

“I thought Natalie was really ready to play when she came out and just took over offensively, and then she found [Devereaux] a couple times. I thought [Devereaux] had a really good game too — no fouls, rebounded and scored … I thought those two pretty much carried us. I don’t think any of the other starters played well in the first half.”

McGraw attributed the team’s 38 percent shooting to two days off from practice leading up to the matchup, as well as a willingness to “settle” for the three-ball.

“I think settled is the perfect word,” she said. “I think we do that all the time. We always settle for the three. We are not shooting it well, we have not really shot it well more than one game this year, and yet we continue to settle for it.

“You have to be willing to drive the ball. If you stay in the game, why should you change what you’re doing if you’re not coming out of the game for it.”

Sophomore forward Natalie Achonwa powered Notre Dame’s improved play Sunday, scoring a career-high 20 points and reasserting Notre Dame’s presence in the post. The Irish led the Bluejays (4-3) 30-3 at one point in the first half, holding Creighton scoreless for the first eight minutes and 24 seconds of the game.

“With players like Natalie and [junior guard] Skylar [Diggins] and even [Devereaux] being such a presence, they have to guard them,” Achonwa said. “So as soon as I touch the ball, it’s almost like a golden light telling me to go to the basket. It’s really easy.”

Although Notre Dame committed 15 turnovers, the squad forced 25, leading to 32 points off those turnovers while shooting 55 percent for the game.

“We talked about energy,” McGraw said Sunday. “We had a lot of good positive energy today. We were into the game more. I think we were really flat [Friday] and we needed to make up for it.”

Notre Dame looks to extend its four-game win streak when it takes the court Wednesday at the Purcell Pavilion at 7 p.m.


Contact Chris Masoud at [email protected]